‘Limit or Eliminate’: Biden’s Executive Order Triggers Proposed US Bitcoin Ban After Drastic Ethereum Upgrade and Wild Crypto Price Swings

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Bitcoin
BTC
using the energy-intensive proof-of-work consensus mechanism, could be banned in the United States under a proposal made by the White House Office of Science and Technology.

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Following an executive order issued by US President Joe Biden in March following an extraordinary bitcoin price spike in 2021, the Office of Science and Technology said the government “has a responsibility” to “protect “people from the pollution caused by cryptocurrencies.

The proposal comes amid an upheaval in the crypto market caused by Ethereum, the second-largest cryptocurrency after bitcoin, beginning its long-awaited transition from proof-of-work to much more energy-efficient proof-of-stake. what some think. could trigger a massive drop in bitcoin prices.

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“The use of electricity from digital assets contributes to [greenhouse gas emissions]additional pollution, noise and other local impacts, depending on local markets, policies and power sources”, the report reads, adding, “The U.S. government has a responsibility to ensure the stability of the electric grid, enable a clean energy future, and protect communities from pollution and the impacts of climate change.”

The climate impact of bitcoin mining has become a hot topic in recent months, as the surge in the price of bitcoin has driven up energy demand for bitcoin and fears over climate change have reached fever pitch.

The price of bitcoin soared in late 2020 and 2021 only to fall back this year, although it remains around double its mid-2020 level.

The bitcoin network is thought to use about as much energy each year as some smaller countries, with the Cambridge Center for Alternative Finance recently calculating that it consumes around 110 terawatt hours per year, or 0.55% of global output. of electricity, which is equivalent to the annual energy demand. the likes of Malaysia and Sweden.

The Office of Science and Technology recommends creating clean energy “performance standards” for bitcoin and cryptocurrency mining, which involves the use of powerful computers to both secure the blockchain network and create new coins, including encouraging “the use of environmentally friendly crypto-assets”. technologies.”

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“If these measures prove ineffective in reducing the impacts, the [Biden] the administration should explore executive actions, and Congress could consider legislation, to limit or eliminate the use of energy-intensive consensus mechanisms for crypto-asset mining” – referring to the proof-of-work of Bitcoin.

Earlier this year, internal European Union documents revealed that Swedish financial regulators and the European Commission of the EU discussed the possibility of banning Bitcoin’s proof-of-work mining mechanism due to its impact on the environment.

Meanwhile, Ethereum, which still currently uses the proof-of-work system pioneered by Bitcoin, has begun a long-awaited shift to proof-of-stake, removing its reliance on miners while reducing the network’s carbon footprint. 99% Ethereum.

Ethereum is expected to complete its transition to proof of work around mid-September.

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